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Six foot fence erected around Brownhills home

Walsall | News | Published:

It may not be the Berlin Wall but a 6ft fence erected in front of a couple's Victorian home has spawned its own dispute between neighbours.

Wendy and Paul Collins say they watched in a mixture of disbelief and horror as builders set to work outside their detached home in Mill Road, Brownhills with no warning last Friday.

Mrs Collins asked them to stop what they were doing but was told: 'We've got the paperwork.'

Six hours later all the couple could see from their front room window was a slab of wooden panelling after the fencing was installed blocking their way out.

Although they can open their wrought-iron garden gate, they cannot actually walk through it.

They can sit in their yellow saloon car, currently parked in the driveway, but they cannot actually drive it anywhere.

Mrs Collins, a retired teacher, said: "We're like prisoners in our own home, we've been barricaded in. It's ridiculous and very frustrating.

"Obviously we can still get in and out via the back door but that's not the point."

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The fence had been built on land owned by Sadlers Mill Ltd, a private company set up by the owners of a block of flats adjacent to the couple's property.

The owners of the apartments are all shareholders in the company.

Mrs Collins says she has had several requests from the management company to tidy up her home and garden but says she is no longer physically manage the work.

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"They tried to bully us into cleaning up the front - and this is the final straw. This is a Victorian house, it was built in 1865, it's never going to be a show home," she said.

But Michael Nicholls, a director of Sadler Mills, who lives in one of the flats, claimed that the state of the Collins' house was depreciating the value of their apartment.

He said that pre-cast had fallen from the walls, the guttering was hanging off and part of their garden wall had been deliberately knocked down.

Mr Collins added: "It's a sad situation. We've been reasonable from the outset, we even offered to pay for the garden wall to be rebuilt as long as they signed it over to us but we heard nothing. In the end we were forced to take the action we did."

Wendy is having to use ladders to get out of her front garden

Mr and Mrs Collins' home, Mill House, fronts onto a L-shaped car park owned by the residents.

Two years ago the couple took up an offer by Sadlers Mill to rent two parking spaces for £20 a month. But the two sides fell out when the Collins' demolished part of their front wall and used it as an access through the car park.

Mr Nicholls said: "It was unsightly and also trespassing on our land. Mr and Mrs Collins used it for a third car but if they'd asked us we would have given them another parking space.

"We couldn't understand why they did it. It seems we give them an inch and they take a mile.

"In fairness, they have repaired the guttering and tidied up the pre-cast but our main bug-bear has always been the broken wall."

The residents sent a solicitors letter to the couple in July outlining their intention to build a wall around the property after August 15.

Mr Nicholls said: "We left it for another month after that which was ample warning for them to reach an 11th hour agreement with us or at least give them time to move their car."

After the wall went up on Friday, he said Mrs Collins and her son and daughter blocked the entrance to the car park for five hours, stopping residents coming in or out.

He added: "The residents were only allowed in after the Collins' put their case to us. The decision to put the wall up was a majority vote and both the council and the police have checked out paperwork and said we had done everything by the book.

"We have tried to be amicable and neighbourly but Mr and Mrs Collins would accept no compromise. It's a pure shame."

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